Although the Los Angeles Lakers dropped their 2019-20 NBA season opener at Staples Center, they have managed to go 3-0 as the home team against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies opened the game on a 15-2 run due to a lackluster effort on both ends of the floor from the Lakers. Despite experiencing some discomfort in his shoulder early on, Anthony Davis was able to make his presence felt by helping the Lakers respond with an 11-2 run of their own to cut the deficit to four midway through the first quarter.
With Davis serving as the central force on offense, head coach Frank Vogel opted to surround him with a more defensive lineup by inserting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Dwight Howard in the mix and it paid huge dividends on that end of the floor to start. Regardless, it was not enough to prevent a 32-point opening period from the Grizzlies.
The second quarter got off to another slow start before both teams began to trade punches and it was only a matter of time before James was able to find his rhythm on offense to equalize the game at 36. Los Angeles also seemingly dodged a bullet when Davis was able to make his return to the game after being forced to the locker room to get the tape on his shoulder adjusted. Vogel then went with an offensive backcourt in Troy Daniels and Alex Caruso while sliding Danny Green over to the three spot.
It certainly paid off as Green was finally able to put an end to the drought from deep by hitting the team’s first three-pointer of the game after 11 attempts, which also helped them take their first lead of the game with less than five minutes left in the half. Although both teams largely continued to struggle on offense, the Grizzlies went into the break without a lead for the first time this season due to their inability to capitalize on the Lakers’ miscues.
Both teams came out swinging to start the second half but it was Green that managed to keep his hot start going with back-to-back buckets, including his second three-pointer of the game. While Davis may have struggled to find his rhythm from the field, he made sure to take full advantage of his trips to the charity stripe by hitting a career-high 26-of-27 from the free-throw line.
The game came to a screeching halt after a barrage of whistles led to an extended stoppage in play, but things finally started to pick up once the team’s aggressive play on defense helped them start to pull away. It was all Davis from that point on as he ignited a 22-0 run by hitting all 18 of his free throws in the third quarter to secure the biggest lead of the game.
Any attempts to stop the bleeding by the Grizzlies were quelled by James’ efforts on offense as both a scorer and a playmaker with Davis now resting on the sidelines.
Even though the game was well out of reach, the Lakers stayed true to their aggressive approach by not letting up on the defensive end and putting the stamp on a dominant victory.